You simply double click on a Windows program's icon and watch it come up on your Mac's desktop, just as if it were a Mac program.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
Another plus for Apple's Macs: You can run Windows programs without needing to install Windows itself

May 6, 2007

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2007, The Post-Standard

   Many readers wrote to ask for more information about the new dual-operating-system computers from Apple. These Mac computers, which are built with Intel chips, can run both Apple's own operating system and Microsoft Windows at the same time.
   The secret of this dual-software nirvana is an $80 program called Parallels Desktop, from www.parallels.com. With Parallels Desktop, you ccan install any modern version of Windows in parallel with Apple's Mac operating system, OS X. (Apple doesn't supply Windows. You do that yourself.)
   As I reported previously, Parallels is outstanding. When I installed Windows 2000 on our new MacBook Pro computer, I was able to run a half-dozen Windows programs at the same time as my complement of OS X applications. In at least one respect, I had achieved the best of both possible worlds.
   But not in another respect. As many of you pointed out after reading the earlier article, buying Parallels and locating (or purchasing) a legal copy of Windows just to run one or two Windows programs on a Mac seems like overkill. Isn't there a way to run the occasional Windows program without investing time and money in Windows itself?
   This question is made even more poignant by the tone of some of the letters I received. "I switched to a Mac to get away from Windows," one letter-writer said. "All I want to do is run Microsoft Access. It's not available on the Mac. But I'd rather not go all the way back to the bad old days of Windows -- and my troubles with viruses and spyware -- just to run that one non-Mac program."
   For this reader and others, I might have very good news. The fact that I'm waffling a bit should be a warning.
   Here's the best part of the good news.
   A company known as Codeweavers sells a product called CrossOver Mac that achieves exactly what many of you are looking for. CrossOver Mac lets you run Windows programs on a new Mac without the need to install Windows. After you install CrossOver Mac, you simply double click on a Windows program's icon and watch it come up on your Mac's desktop, just as if it were a Mac program.
   CrossOver Mac, from www.codeweavers.com, costs $60. You can try it free for 60 days. My guess is that everyone who bought a new Intel-based Mac to get away from Windows probably has a couple of Windows programs worth trying out under CrossOver Mac.
   And that's where we come to the lesser part of the good news. CrossOver Mac can't run ALL Windows programs; some give it fits. (Some probably gave YOU fits before you switched, right?) Codeweavers has a compatibility list at www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/rank/ that shows you what's likely to run well and what's not.
   icrosoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint have the top compatibility ranking. A popular game, World of Warcraft, is also very highly ranked.
   In my own tests, I had good results running Outlook 2000 and Internet Explorer 5 and 6. Because some banks (and, no doubt, brokerage houses) refuse to allow customers to use any browser other than Internet Explorer for online banking, being able to run IE so well through CrossOver Mac is a relief.
   CrossOver Mac is infinitely easier to deal with than a full Windows installation. But more importantly, it's far safer, too. Viruses, spyware, worms, hijackers and zombies -- the standard fare for any Windows installation -- can't infect CrossOver Mac because there is no Windows to infect. That reason alone should put CrossOver Mac high on your list when you need to run that occasional Windows program on your Mac.